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- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Cobra Commander from the live-action film series. The mainstream version can be found here: Cobra Commander.
|“||The time has come for the cobra to rise up and reveal himself. You will call me..... COMMANDER!||„|
|~ Rex Lewis overthrowing James McCullen and becoming Cobra Commander.|
Rexford "Rex" Lewis, also known as Cobra Commander and formerly as the Doctor, is the main antagonist of the G.I. Joe film series, serving as one of the two main antagonists (along with Destro) of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the main antagonist of G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
He was a former military scientist who became influenced by the nanomite research from M.A.R.S. Industries, and thus, his thirst for knowledge gave him little regard for human life. He eventually took over M.A.R.S. and became the founder and supreme leader of the terrorist organization COBRA. He was a close friend of Conrad Hauser/Duke and brother to Ana Lewis, who later became the Baroness.
In The Rise of Cobra, he was portrayed and voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also played Richie Nix in Killshot; in Retaliation, he was portrayed by Luke Bracey and while his voice was provided by Robert Baker.
At a young age, Rex and his sister Ana both lost their parents and were left as orphans. Upon becoming a U.S. soldier and an intelligent doctor, he became best friends with Conrad Hauser and Wallace A. Weems, the former of whom fell in love with Ana and became engaged to. She only agreed to marry him if he promised to keep Rex alive.
During an oversees assignment, Conrad sent him into a building to get information on some mysterious weapons being constructed, while an airstrike was sent to destroy the building in five minutes. Inside, he finds a computer recording of a project known as "nanomites", which were far more advanced than anything in today's scientific affairs. As he became fascinated by it, he meets Dr. Mindbender who was hired by M.A.R.S. Industries CEO James McCullen to create them. After the airstrike came too early, Mindbender stopped Rex from leaving and offered to teach him about the nanomites if they survived.
After the airstrike destroyed the building, Conrad, Wallace and Ana along with the rest of the world assumed him dead. However, in truth, Rex and Mindbender survived the attack, but he was physically scarred and was given proper medical equipment to live on. Joining up with M.A.R.S., he learned from Mindbender about the nanomites, ultimately perfecting his research and becoming his assistant. Rex, now going by the alias "the Doctor", developed an intense hatred for Conrad as he left him for dead, and had also felt sympathy for Ana after Conrad left her out of guilt.
Eventually, the Doctor broke into Ana's house one night and injected her with nanomites, using her as his first test subject and transformed her into "the Baroness". Rex expressed that he truly did love his sister despite his corruption, and believed that he had given her life purpose and a way to deal with the pain of being "truly alone" by programming her to work for McCullen so that she could move on from her broken heart.
The Rise of Cobra
Over the next four years, the Doctor managed to create to use his nanomites to create the Neo-Viper project and develop the warheads needed for McCullen's plan for world domination. He also showed a fascination towards the cobra snakes, making the species a symbol of his work.
The Doctor first appears in the film as McCullen returns to his HQ in the North Pole, where he reveals the results of his 20 Neo-Vipers and that one of them was embedded at the White House for a part of McCullen's plan. He uses on as a demonstration and that they are completely brainwashed and feel no fear, pain, remorse or guilt for their actions, and after a King Cobra bites one on the arm, the nanomites expel its venom from his arm, impressing McCullen. He then has a team of them assist Storm Shadow and the Baroness in retrieving the nanomite warheads that G.I. Joe currently possess following their failed attack on N.A.T.O.'s transport.
He suggested to sell one warhead on the black market so he could continue his research, McCullen denies it and that he'll use them to create chaos by destroying Beijing, Moscow and Washington D.C. so he could unify them under one leader that worked for him. He then promised the Doctor that he would be able to do all the research he wants afterwards. Later, he prepared Zartan for his part on McCullen's plan: to impersonate the current President on the United States by using nanomites. The plan was successful and Zartan now resembled the President himself, in which he would replace him during the chaos of the warhead attacks. He had also his Presidential bunker and ensure that it would protect them from the nanomites.
As Baroness and Storm Shadow arrived on the base with Conrad (now known as Duke) as their prisoner, Doctor was checking his new mask before they and McCullen arrived to see him. After Doctor showed that the warheads were being armed and readied for launch, they gave him Duke as a new recruit for the Neo-Viper project and he took away for the procedure. As he prepped him, he explained the global infrastructures of M.A.R.S. Industries and that he was in a prototype bunker, which wasn't yet capable of protecting one from a nuclear blast to a nanomite warhead. After Duke asked who he was, Rex unmasked and revealed himself to Duke, infuriating him and was touched by his "moving ceremony", despite it being an empty coffin. He explained that he never came back because of his discovery in Mindbender's bunker and that Ana doesn't know about him.
Just as he was about to inject the nanomites into Duke, Ana broke free from her control and attacked Rex and freed Duke, only for Rex to use a remote to paralyze Ana, revealing what he did to her and that he could also kill her with the push of a button. He called McCullen and security, in which they figured that Ana's love for Duke helped her overcome Rex's nanomites, which has never happened to any of the subjects before. While G.I. Joe attacked the facility, Duke pulled out a shock gun on them and just as Rex was about to kill Ana, he shot McCullen while he fired a flamethrower, knocking down Rex and removing the control from his hand. Rex then retreated with a facially burnt McCullen to his personal submarine. As Duke and Ana pursued them and shot their propellers, Rex ordered his Neo-Vipers to detonate the ice pack that would destroy the base and kill all of the Joes.
During the entire chaos, Weems (now known as Conrad) destroyed the warheads and the Joes were able to escape from the collapsing base. However, Zartan had still replaced the President in the bunker. Rex injected McCullen's burnt face with nanomites and transformed into into metal, now dubbing him as "Destro" just like his ancestors, in which they would keep him in check as well. At first McCullen initially believes it as his heir succession to the line of McCullens but Rex subsides it and dubs him "Destro", then abandons his "Doctor" alias and wrests control of M.A.R.S. Industries from McCullen, revealing that he had his own ambitions the entire time. He renames it as COBRA with himself as its supreme leader, now calling himself "Cobra Commander", also putting on his new mask, an outraged McCullen demands to know what Rex has done to him and attempts to attack him but due to the mind-controlling ability of the nanomites, he is restrained and forced to render unconditional obedience to him. Afterwards, he is confronted by Duke and the rest of the Joes and is arrested along with Destro. As Cobra Commander is locked up, he states that their conflict was only just beginning.
Although Cobra Commander was locked up for his crimes, his takeover of M.A.R.S. and renaming it as COBRA had serious effects as the entire organization (including Zartan) became loyal to him, sporting the cobra insignia and began carrying out his plans. He and Destro were also taken to a prison facility in Germany where they were kept inside containers and that he was also being given a new mask to keep him alive.
During the events of the film, he secretly arranged for Zartan to label G.I. Joe as traitors and had ex-Joe Firefly assassinate all of the Joes in one attack. Soon later, after Zartan found out where Cobra Commander was being kept thanks to torturing the real U.S. President, Storm Shadow infiltrated the facility while initially posing as Snake Eyes, with Firefly later openly attacking the facility with his flying bombs. Together, they broke out Cobra Commander, who then declared that Destro was "out of the band" and after one of the guards shot a coolant tank to set the facility ablaze, the three escaped while Storm Shadow was wounded. Cobra Commander ordered for him to be taken to be healed.
Now wearing his prison mask that has been modified into a new helmet, he arrives at the Zeus Industrial Complex with Firefly and everything notifies him that his plans are up to schedule. Zartan arrives, complimenting his new mask and tells him that three Joes (Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint) had somehow survived Firefly's attack. After Cobra Commander expressed his anger, he order the two of them to hunt the Joes down and kill them quickly, knowing that they can still pose a serious threat. He later sees the captive President and forces him to give them his retinal scan to open the nuclear football, exclaiming that it was a final piece in the puzzle.
He has Zartan arrange an anti-nuclear meeting with the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Russia and North Korea, in which he activated the nuclear football and launched all of America's warheads to force the others to do the same. As he then activated their self-destruction switch and convinced the others to do the same, Cobra Commander arrived at the summit with Storm Shadow and several COBRA enforcers. Zartan and Cobra Commander then revealed Project Zeus, which is a space weapon system capable of kinetic bombardment and that each satellite is armed with Tungsten rods that have a force equivalent to a nuclear bomb. After they demonstrate a rod's power by destroying London, Cobra Commander demands that they swear absolute loyalty to him and COBRA.
However, Jinx and Storm Shadow, who has switched sides to the Joes, attack the COBRA forces just as the leaders were about to surrender. During the struggle, Cobra Commander orders for the satellites to fire on all of their designated targets, which included . The Joes rescue the leaders (including the U.S. president), kill Zartan and Firefly and are able to destroy the satellites before they could fire. In the aftermath, Cobra Commander is forced to escape with his plans ruined as the President regains his position and labels the Joes as heroes, and Roadblock vows to hunt down and kill Cobra Commander for his crimes and avenge all of the Joes he's killed, especially Duke who was killed during the attack.
As a young man, Rexford was loyal to his family and friends, especially for his sister Ana who looked after her younger brother as they both lost their parents when they were just children. Duke, who was a fellow soldier and his sister's fiancee, was his closest friend and was almost his brother-in-law before Rex vanished. He even gave Duke his blessing to marry Ana and once Rex "died" he was completely ashamed and guilt-ridden. Rex was extremely ambitious, proven when forced to be around a doctor who was experimenting with nanomites while he was about to be attacked by a military air strike. Although he was a good doctor, soldier and man, Rex allowed the world, his friends and even his sister to believe that he was dead so he could selfishly experiment on his nanomite technology without any heat from the government. Rex was obviously a psychopath, as he displayed no qualms over using his innocent sister as his own personal pawn, even brainwashing Ana with nanomites to use as his trump card against Duke and McCullen. Even after all the pain he caused her, Rex still insisted that he loved Ana and all of her pain was caused by Duke.
Under his disguise as "The Doctor", Rex was the typical "mad doctor." He had no respect for any of his soldiers, seeing them as his lab rats to carry out his wicked experiments, he appears to have an infatuation with the King Cobra deciding to use it as the mantra for his terrorist group and code name; "Cobra Commander. Rex was totally immoral, helping a terrorist like Destro only to prove to the world the power of the nanomites and using the same technology to put dominance over McCullen and even his own sister Ana. He was extremely manipulative and intelligent, not only able to perfect the nanomite technology that was shown to him by a doctor but was able to weaponize them as well. Rex was ruthless, megalomaniacal and incredibly calculating. He presented an incredibly calm and stoic demeanor, however he was capable of red hot anger.
The Rise of Cobra
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt joined the cast when he was shown the mask he would wear as Cobra Commander.
- For the voice of Cobra Commander, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was partly inspired by Christopher Collins's voice from the cartoon, but he also used a bit of his own imagination as he felt that copying Latta's voice fully would be unoriginal and ridiculous.
- Cobra Commander's mask was redesigned for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, partly because filmmakers thought the original version was too similar to a Ku Klux Klan mask.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum are great friends in real life while in the film they are archenemies.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt declined the offer to return for G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
- Luke Bracey replaced Joseph Gordon-Levitt in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, while Robert Baker provided the voice. Faran Tahir was rumored for the role before it was revealed by director Jon M. Chu on Twitter that both Bracey and Baker would play the character.
- This version of Cobra Commander is inspired in part by Darth Vader, with him formerly being a heroic character with connections to the main protagonist (Anakin Skywalker being Luke Skywalker's father, Duke Hauser as Rex Lewis' best friend), who were seduced to evil by another villain with promises of power (Dr. Mindbender for Rex, Darth Sidious for Anakin). Also, both were previously burned and forced to wear a life-support apparatus to live and thus became the leaders of evil organizations that would become the main antagonistic forces (the Galactic Empire for Darth Vader, COBRA for Cobra Commander). In addition, both sport dark, menacing uniforms and imposing helmets.